Do you ever feel the need to totally disconnect?

Taylor Martin
 from  Concord, NC
| November 25, 2011

Unfortunately, Turkey Day is now over. Everyone's stomachs should be full of turkey, stuffing and too much dessert, and I'm sure many of you are dreading the trek back home or the abrupt crash landing back into reality on Monday morning. (I can empathize with those of you who have to work today or this weekend. Buy hey, I enjoy this gig. So I'm not complaining.) But I'm also sure you've had all the family time you can handle in a day and will be looking forward to a slow weekend ahead.

Anyway, I have my eyes locked on a computer, tablet, smartphone or television 90 percent of every day of the week. I am almost always tweeting, reading mobile news or messing with some type of mobile app. I figured yesterday would be the perfect time to attempt to completely disconnect, if only for a couple hours. So I made it a point this year not to touch my phone during my visit with both sides of the family – no emails, no texts, not even Twitter. It stayed in my pocket, untouched, for a solid eight hours. (I'm excluding commute time from one family to another, where I used it to stream some music.)

I'm not sure if it was just my family or if others have experienced it also, but this year was different. Weird, even. Why? Well, for once, I was not the only person toting around a smartphone. I wasn't the one constantly excluding myself from conversation and checking emails, texting, endlessly staring at my Facebook and Twitter timelines or playing games. In fact, I was the one who wasn't doing any of that this year.

Okay, so maybe I'm exaggerating a bit. Not everyone had their faces buried in a smartphone. But things have definitely changed. There we were, sitting around the dinner table after a nice hearty lunch. Discretely, my sister, mother or cousin would glance at their phone to check football scores, respond to texts or who knows what else. It wasn't disruptive or rude (we were there to kick back, after all), but me not being "that guy" this year was certainly strange. Mind you, I come from a family that doesn't mix very well with technology, yet ... they were.

The one year I decide to distance myself from work and technology – as much as possible, at least – for Thanksgiving and family time (read: eating excessive amounts of food), though, my obsession with technology and smartphones wasn't what set me apart. It's what brought me closer. I had relatives coming to me with questions, wanting help in one form or another. Could you help me fix my computer? Why is my phone doing this? Hey, I have a [insert phone name here]. Is that a good phone? I'm usually their go-to tech guy anyway, but it's usually only to an extent. Never have they asked me about phones and tablets before, which is obviously my forte.

While I distanced myself from the online world for a few hours and didn't use my phone for probably the longest time in ... ages, I didn't really get a chance to totally disconnect like I wanted. Answering random tech-related questions, to me, is still somewhat work-related. And having to answer questions about which phone to buy and why you should spend a little more on a phone you really want rather than signing a contract for a free smartphone is probably a good idea put me right back in work mode. But it was extremely refreshing to go several hours without checking a single text message or email for hours on end.

Honestly, all I wanted was a single day that wasn't all about technology. Needless to say, that didn't happen. Maybe next year ... or next month for Christmas. During any normal week or month, I try to disconnect at least once. It's good to take a step back and enjoy a breath of fresh air from time to time. But disconnecting over the holidays is a must, and spending time with family is ever-important. I've spent the past few with my face buried in a smartphone or tablet and texting until my thumbs hurt. But this year, I tried to stop for a while and they just weren't having it. They were trying to break in their new smartphones. I give them another year or two before they're begging for a break from technology, if only for a day, too.

So tell me, readers. Do you ever, especially for the holidays, feel the need to step back and pull the plug and disconnect? Did you find it harder to do so this year, due to more family members with smartphones and constantly tempting you to check your phone, too?